Welcome to the Jan. 25 edition of BCHL Today, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.
We start in Wenatchee where the Wild do a great job recognizing the men and women who serve as police officers and fire fighters, and Saturday night is the team’s annual Guns N’ Hoses game.
The Wild are hosting the Merritt Centennials in a 7:05 p.m. start at the Toyota Town Centre and the game will be preceded by a Police vs Fire scrimmage at 5 p.m.
Most interesting is what Wenatchee does with the jerseys on Guns N’ Hoses night, creating a unique look to honour emergency responders.
Here’s a look at the design for this year’s jerseys, which will be auctioned off during and after the game. Most of the jerseys will be up for silent auction, but according to the Wild’s Facebook page, the jerseys of AJ Vanderbeck, Matt Dorsey, August Von Ungern-Sternberg, and Seth Eisele are being auctioned off live after the game.
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are doing something similar for home games Friday and Saturday.
It’s hard to get a sense of the jerseys they will wear to support MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Salmon Arm is conducting online bidding up until game time Saturday night at www.sasilverbacks.com/jersey-auction and you can view the jerseys (sort of) there. Live bidding will continue through to the end of the second intermission as the Silverbacks host the Surrey Eagles at the Shaw Centre.
They are certainly unique and there’s something attractive to owning a game-worn item that is one-of-one.
The Chilliwack Chiefs did this two weekends ago in a home game against the Penticton Vees, auctioning off jerseys to benefit the Chilliwack Society for Community Living.
While Wenatchee and Salmon Arm are going with clearly-themed jerseys, which is great, the Chiefs took a different approach with a design that looked fantastic but didn’t (as far as I could tell) have any connection to the cause they were supporting.
It’s probably not easy coming up with something that would reflect the CSCL mission, which is ‘to provide quality individualized supports to enhance the lives of adults with developmental disabilities, children and youth with special needs and their families.’
How do you turn that into a jersey? Not sure. Here’s how Chilliwack’s design looked.
Congrats to Victoria Grizzlies defenceman Matthew Doran.
The team announced that the 20 year old defenceman has accepted a scholarship opportunity at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks where he will become a Nanook.
What is a Nanook? According to Wikipedia (taken with a grain of salt, but it seems accurate), Nanook comes from Inuit culture where it apparently identified the mighty master of the polar bears. That is a cool and unique team name and a refreshing break from Bulldogs (sorry Alberni Valley), Wildcats, Bears, Eagles and all those common names used by dozens of teams.
Anyhow, off that tangent and back to Doran, who is wrapping up his final season of junior A eligibility.
He came to the Grizzlies this season after spending most of the last three with the Coulee Region Chill (another solid name) in the USHL. The St. Louis native has size (six-foot-one, 200 pounds) and skill and only Wenatchee’s Zech Cooper has scored more goals (11) from the blueline this season.
The Powell River Kings are recognizing two people this weekend as they host a pair of games at the Hap Parker Arena.
The Penticton Vees are in town Friday and the Kings will use the occasion to honour trainer/equipment manager Terry Dyer. Dyer worked his 1,000th junior game Jan. 13 in a road game at Nanaimo. It can’t be overstated how hard Dyer and his colleagues around the BCHL work, putting in countless hours behind the scenes to make sure players can show up at the arena and not have to worry about anything other than hockey.
Way to go Terry!
On Saturday, Nanaimo provides the opposition for the Kings as they recognize Hunter Findlater. On the same night that Dyer reached his milestone, Findlater logged his 200th regular season game in a Powell River jersey. Only eight other players in franchise history have hit that mark, and it’s all the more special for Findlater, who is a Powell River kid.
A nose-to-the-grindstone player, the 20 year old has collected 30 goals, 51 points and 64 penalty minutes in 204 games as of this writing.
Food for thought from a friend who writes a weekly column in the Chilliwack Progress.
I don’t personally know anyone who is more plugged in than Jacob Bestebroer about the BCHL and hockey in general. Here are a few paragraphs from his latest piece.
Two recent suspensions to Chiefs players got me thinking. Anthony Vincent recently returned from a four game suspension and Jared Turcotte is finishing off the last of his six game sentence this weekend. Both were punished for hits to the head. Neither incident involved any intent to injure. That’s not to say their punishments were unfair. Players need to be responsible for their actions.
Vincent’s play was a strange one. It looks like he is trying to avoid the hit and actually only received a roughing minor on the play. Turcotte’s was an open ice hit that went wrong. Again, I saw no intent to injure on either play.
That leads me to the penalties for fighting.
Fighting is no longer a big part of the junior hockey game. The game has changed and we no longer have to watch the brawling that was front and center most nights twenty to thirty years ago. But the penalties for fighting haven’t changed much. It’s still a five minute penalty and automatic ejection from the game with maybe an extra two minutes if you are deemed to have instigated the fight. What has changed is the addition of suspensions with the accumulation of fighting majors in a single season. Once a player reaches six or more fights in a season he will start missing games due to suspension.
This doesn’t jive to me. A player can unintentionally hit a player in the head and be handed a six game suspension, but a player can punch a player repeatedly in the face, obviously intending to injure his opponent and serve only whatever time is left in the game.
Fighting isn’t a big problem in the BCHL anymore. But with everything we know about head injuries, now might be the time to increase the penalties to at least match what players are receiving for other hits to their opponents heads.
Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.